Let’s Talk About The Last Jedi

Image result for last jedi

I know, I know. This is a modeling blog. But for this one post, it’s not going to be. Because I have to talk about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And I have to talk about it in more depth than a Facebook post allows.

Don’t like it? Don’t care? Don’t want to be spoiled if you haven’t seen it yet? Simple – don’t read.

Two quick notes before we dive in.

  • First, this post will contain spoilers. Fair warning.
  • Second, this post will probably be long. Because I have a lot of thoughts.


On the Divisiveness

The Last Jedi is more divisive than any Star Wars film – and perhaps any major franchise film – I can recall. And yes, I say that in the wake of the prequels.

That’s because with the prequels, there’s a general consensus around their flaws. With the notable exception of Ewan MacGregor, the performances were not great. The dialogue and storytelling were clunky. The reliance on CGI was often a distraction. The lightsaber fights could be great, but could also slip into flipping and spinning out of an amusement park stunt spectacular.

The thing is…even people who love the prequels acknowledge these flaws, and love I, II and III in spite of them.

With The Force Awakens, you have a similar dynamic. The broad strokes similarity to A New Hope, from a droid with secret information to a spherical planet-killing superlaser, is broadly acknowledged. Love it or hate it, nobody is out there saying “there’s no similarity to Episode IV!”.

The Last Jedi is different. There are a few elements of universal eye-rolling – bombers in space, Leia’s Force Poppins – but a lot of the big moments of the movie are polarizing as shit. The portrayal of Luke. The fleet chase. Canto Bight. Rose. Snoke’s abrupt end. Luke fucking dying. Or transcending or whatever.

Some people love these things. Myself included. Other people hate the shit out of them.

And on some level, if you hated this movie, I agree with you. Or rather, I understand where you’re coming from.

Because ultimately, when a lot of us expected this movie to zig, to show us the Jedi Master Skywalker we’ve been picturing and reading about in the EU for three decades, it zagged. And it zagged hard. It’s not that it didn’t live up to our expectations, it’s that it took our expectations and ran in the opposite direction. It didn’t even try to live up to them.

And that’s hard to swallow. And if you’re not willing to go with the movie, if you’re holding on to those expectations, I can see how they can work against you. Maybe this rabbit hole will help you adjust your perspective, maybe not.

Nobody hates Star Wars like Star Wars fans

Before diving into the movie itself, I want to address one segment of haters that I just do not agree with. Those are the ones saying that The Last Jedi is not Star Wars, that Disney ruined Star Wars, that are starting fucking online petitions to give Star Wars back to George Lucas (lol – how would that even work?).

Star Wars has always been campy and mythic and hand-wavy. Star Wars has always had plot holes and vehicles that make no sense. The Empire was brought down by teddy bears. The most powerful being in the original trilogy was a green swamp frog muppet.

Disney, more than any other major studio, understands that the best way to make money is to make good movies. And in the last 15 or so years, they’ve shown that the best way to do that is to let their properties more or less set their own destinies. Pixar has given us some of the best animated movies ever made, and they show no signs of slowing down. Any other studio would have followed Incredibles with Incredibles 2 in 2007 or 2008. Disney let Pixar wait until they had a story they wanted to tell – and here we are getting Incredibles 2 thirteen years after the first one. They’ve let Marvel build, film-by-film, a massive, interconnected cinematic universe that stands as one of the most impressive feats in the history of filmmaking. And they’re letting Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm do their own thing with Star Wars.

And honestly, Lucasfilm is being fearless. The original script for Rogue One had several of the characters surviving, because of an assumption that Lucasfilm wouldn’t let them kill off the entire cast. Kathleen Kennedy told them to go for it. The Last Jedi doesn’t go the way fan expectations think – which is the opposite of what you’d expect from a profit-driven greed factory.

If you want a counterpoint, look at how badly Warner Brothers is stumbling with the DC films. They keep course correcting, trying to adjust to fan expectations, and we get shit like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League.

Ultimately, I think this particular segment of haters want to be right more than they want a good movie.

Accept the past

Okay, let’s actually get into The Last Jedi.

Earlier this week I was asked to sum up TLJ in three words for someone who hasn’t seen it yet. And it took me a minute, but ultimately my answer was “accept the past”.

This movie is all about the past, and our relationship with it. If you extrapolate that into a commentary on the state of Star Wars and how we see it, it becomes quite meta. But for the moment, let’s stick with the movie itself.

Almost every character in the movie is obsessed with the past. I think the only one who isn’t is Leia. She’s the only one who is clear-eyed about it throughout pretty much the entire film.

Rey wants to know where she came from, who her parents are, why she has this Force sensitivity, and how all of that defines her “place in all this”.

Kylo Ren wants to obliterate the past. Maybe, subconsciously, he knows that his reaction to Luke in his hut was over the top, and that his perception was clouded by the dark side. From the temple slaughter to joining the First Order, murdering Lor San Tekka, murdering his own father, if he turns around and accepts the past and accepts what he has done, well, it’s too much. So instead of facing it, he seeks to destroy the past and tear everything down.

Luke is haunted and ashamed of the past, of his hubris and his failure. He started to believe in his own legend, and when he failed in a moment of fear and weakness, he couldn’t face it. Couldn’t face Leia and Han. Couldn’t face the enormity of the horror that he created Kylo Ren. The legendary Luke Skywalker would never do that, so he ran the fuck away from the legend. Cut off his connection to the Force. Left his X-Wing sunk on the sea floor, and drank green alien walrus tit milk.

Finn starts the movie still running from his past, from the First Order. He has one thing he cares for – Rey – and his first thought when shit goes south is to run to protect himself and protect her.

Poe is the gifted flyboy still living in his glory days as an ace pilot. He thinks hotshot flying and attacking against impossible odds is the way out of any crisis. When his approach leads to massive losses over D’Qar, and especially once he loses his X-Wing, that certainty is cast adrift.

The idea…cemented most prominently in Rey’s storyline…is accepting the past for what it truly is, and then accepting that it is the past. The trippy infinity mirror scene in the cave? It confused me a bit the first time I saw TLJ, but on the second viewing it became clearer. When the cave shows her the two shadowy figures merging into one, who turns out to be her, what it’s really telling her is “it doesn’t matter who your parents were – what matters is who you are”.

It’s not that the past doesn’t matter. It’s not that everything Luke, Han and Leia did in the original trilogy is meaningless. It’s that it’s the past. And to go all meta here, reliving the past, freezing Star Wars in amber and telling the same story again and again, is not the right path. It’s not a healthy path.

When Yoda says “we are what they move beyond”…well…

Once our characters accept the past, that’s when they start to grow. Luke accepts that Kylo Ren is his fault, and takes the extraordinary step of becoming the legend the galaxy thinks he is. Finn confronts Phasma, literally puts a dent in the armor of the First Order, and instead of running away, is willing to die charging at them. He maybe course corrected too far and clearly still has some growing to do.

Poe becomes a wiser leader.

And Rey comes to understand that her “place in all this” is hers to determine. Not her parents’, not Luke’s, not Kylo’s, hers. This moment of clarity is also when she stops trying to turn him and instead goes for the lightsaber, resulting in the tug-of-war.

Kylo, meanwhile, doesn’t learn this acceptance and becomes increasingly blinded by his drive to destroy the past. He fails to notice for far too long that the Luke he is facing on Crait is not real – even though he doesn’t leave footprints in the salt, even though he’s wielding the blade that Kylo himself played a role in destroying shortly before. And by the time he notices, the Resistance has escaped.

Don’t sacrifice for nothing

Some of the most defining moments of the original trilogy are suicide attacks against long odds with heavy losses – the assault on both Death Stars.

So it’s somewhat ironic that Leia would slap Poe for leading a suicide attack against long odds with heavy losses. When I mentioned that she’s the only character not obsessed with the past, this is where it starts. The Resistance is not the Rebellion. It’s not as well supported, it doesn’t have the numbers or the equipment. Every ship, every life is precious and not to be sacrificed unless absolutely necessary. And taking out one dreadnought is not absolutely necessary.

We see this again a few times with the fleet intrigue between Poe and Holdo, and of course on Crait when Poe calls off the doomed ski speeder attack. Finn has picked up the zealotry of a convert, but Rose, who already lost her sister in a pointless sacrifice, takes action to save Finn.

Legends aren’t real

The Last Jedi spends a lot of time tearing down legends and idols. Principally with Luke Skywalker. But also with Poe (Holdo cuts right through his legendary reputation) and Finn (Rose discovers the coward behind the heroic veneer). Snoke, too, gets cut down (literally) after fans have spent two years building him up in all manner of theories.

It’s brilliant then, that when Luke finally does act, does embrace the legend of Luke Skywalker, he does it as a fucking projection. It’s how we want to see Luke – but it’s not the real Luke.

At the same time, by embracing that legend, by playing that role, Luke brings hope to the galaxy. A hope that he let wane after he walked away from the legend before.

Failure is the best teacher

Accepting the past is about accepting the good – and the bad. Which Luke did not, and Yoda admonishes him for.

Failure – if you can face it – is the best teacher. It is where true growth comes from. But accepting failure requires humility – and if you notice, Luke talks a lot about vanity in this movie. And Poe kind of embodies it. It’s only when they’re taken to task by their mentors that they embrace their failures.

And ultimately, the entire movie is about failure. Poe’s dreadnought attack is a tactical victory but a strategic failure, as it came at too dear a cost (and maybe gave the First Order time to set up tracking of the Raddus…but that’s just conjecture). Rey fails to bring Luke back to the Resistance, but in that failure learns valuable lessons about herself. Rey also fails to turn Kylo from the dark side, again with valuable lessons.

Finn and Rose’s subplot to Canto Bight is the biggest failure of all. Not only do they not enlist the help of the master codebreaker, not only do they get arrested, not only do they not disable the hyperspace tracker, DJ’s betrayal allows the First Order to locate and target the transports, killing hundreds of Resistancers (when can we just start calling them rebels again?) and creating an even more dire situation. If they’d never gone on that mission, the transports could have escaped to Crait, the Raddus could have jumped away, and the First Order fleet, none the wiser, would have followed.

As it stands, all that’s left of the Resistance can fit comfortably on the Falcon.

There is power in not fighting

Do you know why Luke is a legend? Because, in a moment of truth, he did not fight. He tossed his lightsaber aside and declared that he was a Jedi, like his father before him. In not fighting, in pleading with his father, he turned Vader from the dark side.

Luke’s greatest triumph was, essentially, pacifism.

But for the last two years, everyone’s been eagerly picturing him slamming AT-ATs around with the Force and fighting off thousands of Stormtroopers and basically being a Force god.

Rey herself was hoping for this, and Luke shoots her down with a line about facing down the entire First Order with a laser sword.

And looking back at ROTJ, and at his triumph in the throne room, it makes sense.

It also makes sense that Luke goes out with the most non-confrontational confrontation in all of Star Wars. He’s not even there. He never trades so much as a blow with Kylo. And he wins that encounter by getting way inside Kylo’s head, and by buying the Resistance time to escape.

Save the ones we love

Rose’s line on Crait seemed a bit hokey the first time I heard it, but it’s been growing on me.

“It’s not about killing the people we hate, it’s about saving the ones we love. That’s how we’re going to win this war.”

I don’t think this is a call to some kind of flowers-in-barrels pacifism. It’s more about the idea of fighting for something rather than against something. And Finn had kind of lost track of that – “I won’t let them win”, etc.

Think back to the original trilogy. Most of the action is about “saving the ones we love”. Luke, Han, Obi-Wan and Chewie head off to save Leia. The X-Wings attack the Death Star to save Yavin IV. Han returns to the fight to save Luke during the trench run. A movie later, he heads out into the Hoth night to save Luke. Leia stays as Echo Base is collapsing around her to save the evacuating Rebels. Luke heads to Cloud City against Yoda’s warnings to save his friends. He, Leia and friends save Han from Jabba. And he ultimately confronts Vader to 1) save his friends and 2) save his father.

If Poe had been more concerned with saving the Resistance rather than taking out that dreadnought, Paige and the bomber squadron would probably still be around. Which is totally in keeping with the original trilogy and also what we know of the Force.

Nobody can be somebody

A New Hope set up a classic everyman fantasy – a farmboy from a backwater world going on a grand adventure, learning mysterious new powers, rescuing a princess, and striking a massive blow against the evil Empire.

There’s the sense that anybody can become the hero.

And as great as The Empire Strikes Back is, it’s the film that started to unwind that egalitarian optimism. Luke wasn’t just special, he was special. The son of Darth Vader.

This cascaded frightfully in the prequels, when we learned that Anakin was the chosen one. And when midichlorians were introduced. Suddenly we had bloodline and an actual Force scoreboard. And Force sensitivity was hereditary.

And it infected everything. Our main characters in the prequels were all special – Jedi Masters and the Chancellor and a Queen/Senator. Jyn Erso in Rogue One had to be the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star. Even the characters in Rebels have powerful lineage.

For the last…hell…going back to the first rumblings of The Force Awakens, we’ve been speculating about who Rey’s parents are. She has to be a Skywalker, right? Or maybe a Kenobi somehow? Or she’s a clone of Palpatine or a vergence of the Force or something.

But she’s not. She’s nobody.

And I fucking love it. We have our egalitarian, accessible Force back. We have the sense that anybody can be a hero.

And if not Rey…there’s Finn. The janitor-stormtrooper who managed to break his conditioning and defect from the First Order. There’s also Rose, who in past movies would have been the sort we see running around and getting blown up in the background while our heroes save the day.

And if it’s still not connecting that heroes can come from anywhere (like Ratatouille…in space with lasers and shit), the movie ends on broom boy.

Random Musings

This movie is a lot deeper and more thoughtful – at least in terms of themes and arcs – than it may seem on first viewing. Which is why this post has stretched for so long…when you really start digging, there’s a lot to sift through.

But some stuff doesn’t fit very well into the larger thematic unpacking above, so here are a bunch of random musings for discussion/amusement/hatred.

Chewie is the best father figure for Rey. I saw this in a tweet – but think about it. He drives her to Jedi practice and keeps the car running. He loves to grill. He drops her off to meet the new boy he doesn’t exactly approve of, but just tells her to get home safe.

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Twas better to have recognized a trap and died, then to never have recognized a trap at all. Yes, Ackbar dies in this movie. And rather unceremoniously. And fans are apoplectic. But…come on. Ackbar is the perfect case of 30 years of expectations and expanded universe wish fulfilment coming home to roost. The fish admiral has what, three lines in Return of the Jedi? And he’s goofy looking, so there’s a certain humor to him. And that humor got turned into a meme. And he had a pretty prominent role in the Thrawn trilogy. All of which made him somewhat of an icon outside the movies. But that’s…outside the movies. I’d say be thankful that Mr. Fish got the kiss of canon with cameos in TFA and TLJ. Besides…as much as I like Ackbar, Rogue One topped him with Admiral Raddus.

Shut up about the bombers. Star Wars has never been about realistic military tech. They’re an obvious homage to B-17s. Hell, the name is Starfortress (which is a play on the Flying Fortress, Superfortress, etc.). How do they drop bombs in space? With electromagnets. Why do they even bother with bombs? My guess is that slow-moving bombs can pass through deflectors while energy weapons and high-speed projectiles can’t. But we’re arguing about this when Empire featured giant, completely impractical walking tank things that were designed to be a space nazi version of ancient war elephants.

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The Holdo Maneuver. Holy shit who knew hyperspacing into a ship like that could be so beautifully devastating? And…if it’s that devastating how is it not a significant piece of combat doctrine? Fuck, where are the hyperspace torpedoes? Why didn’t the rebels sent a Mon Cal cruiser into the Death Star II at lightspeed in ROTJ? Don’t get me wrong – it works so well from a narrative, visual, audio, etc perspective. It just creates…problems for the larger universe.

Time is problematic in TLJ. Timing is problematic in Empire, too. But the compressed timescale of The Last Jedi, and it coming so hard on the heels of The Force Awakens, I just don’t feel it necessarily represents enough time for the character development that we see. It takes time to internalize and act.

The sequel trilogy’s ship designs continue to be derivative. In a way this makes sense – the Resistance is using what old shit it can get its hands on – hand-me-down X-Wings and A-Wings and the like. And the First Order seems to be doing variations on imperial designs. For a movie that upends so many other conventions, I was hoping for more.

The visual foreshadowing is amazing. Early on, we see a porg looking into the emitter end of the Anakin lightsaber, while another hops on the power switch, a nice tease of what’s coming for Snoke. When Leia Force-flies back into the Raddus, she passes through an upended hologram of the Supremacy – exactly where Holdo cleaves it later in the movie. And on Crait, there are a few glimpses of footsteps on the surface knocking away the salt to reveal the red crystal beneath – presenting one of the visual clues that tell you Luke is not really there later on.

We don’t need to know more about Snoke. Snoke is dead. And I hope to god he stays that way. Because his unceremonious bisection is a major fuck you to the conflict dynamic most fans were assuming we’d follow, with Rey turning Kylo and them defeating the bigger bad together. Bringing him back would cheapen that. And providing more information…while it would be nice…it isn’t necessary.

Episode IX is wide open(ish). Star Wars is Star Wars, so to an extent we know how Episode IX is going to go. The good guys are going to win. The bad guys are going to lose. There will almost certainly be a lightsaber duel. Kylo Ren may or may not turn from the dark side…but at this point I’m hoping he doesn’t. We’ve already been through that with Vader. Beyond that…who knows where it will go?

Episode IX needs a time jump. The events of TFA and TLJ play out over, at most, like two weeks. But the way things end, it seems like a time jump is necessary. The new rebellion needs to find its feet. Rey needs to build a new lightsaber. Kylo needs to consolidate his command of the First Order. Plus, a time jump would be an elegant, respectful way to phase Leia out. Make it five, ten years later. Leia, never fully recovered from her exposure to space, has become one with the Force. The rebels gather to pay their respects, providing a time for reunion and for filling the audience in on what’s been happening.

Episode IX needs new ship designs. We’ve had two movies now of lightly evolved X-Wings and TIE Fighters. But with the Resistance down to one ship – the Falcon – there’s an excellent opportunity for some new blood. Even if it’s a third-generation X-Wing.

So what did you think?

What did you like? Not like? Think I’m full of shit? Respond in the comments and all that business.


27 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim Parrott says:

    Damn Matt well said. I left that movie not sure what just happened lol. I need to see it again but you bring up great points.

    1. Doogs says:

      Ultimately I’m glad that I moderately spoiled myself before seeing it. I think it helped me to put aside my own expectations and stretch with the movie.

  2. Sean says:

    I have not seen the movie yet I’m hoping to go on Xmas day. Part of my appreciation about seeing the movie and any Star Wars movie at this point is that they will all become watered down (no real story line or continuity) who’s only purpose is to still more toys and shit. Your review has not swayed me of that fear, will each new Star Wars film just be 2 hours of lightsabers and spaceships with an open ended storyline so as not to compromise the possibility of making one more movie? To compare Star Wars to the James Bond franchise probably isn’t fair but I can’t think of another series that has endured like the Bond films, my concern is will Star Wars films eventually turn into the late Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton Bond films, lazy, campy and just trying to get to the next film hoping that it will reinvigorate the franchise. I’m tryin to keep an open mind and hopefully I will enjoy the film as much as you did!

    1. Doogs says:

      So, a few things about that…

      First, the beauty of Star Wars and what makes it rather unique among franchises is that there’s an entire galaxy to play in. Other franchises are anchored in personalities – Bond, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, the Marvel and DC universes. Star Wars has the potential to be, well, endlessly expansive. To this point in the movies, we’ve mostly followed the Skywalkers and their circle of allies and enemies. But there’s no reason to stay so limited. One story can wrap up, but there’s a galaxy full of stories that can be told. It’s worked well so far in various novels, in the Rebels TV series, and so on. And the new trilogy Rian Johnson is spinning up is going to be wholly separated from the Skywalker saga.

      Second, Star Wars was a merch empire long before Disney purchased Lucasfilm. It’s ALWAYS been a gleeful sellout.

      Third, Disney knows that the best way to sustain and expand that merchandising empire is a broad and passionate fan base. And that generally comes from quality content that people gravitate toward. There are plenty of soulless cash grab sequels out there – look at the awful Transformers movies, or Madagascar 28, or whatever the hell the minions are up to. Those are the fear – but the reality is probably closer to Marvel and Pixar. So far Disney has shown a great aptitude for keeping good things going.

  3. There are a lot of haters out there. Or perhaps idiots with some tech skills who take a perverse delight in tearing down anything bigger or better than them. (see link)

    But a digression. Thanks for a great analysis, with lots of interesting insights. Are you spreading your wings? If so I thoroughly approve. Having seen the film, I thought it was the best Star Wars since the original. Sure, it’s tacky in places but it sure beats the overt racism of the Phantom Menace (the worst IMHO). Of course, the first Star Wars was new, innovative and mirrored my mental images of science fiction.

  4. John Everett says:

    An excellent review.

    And I loved the film for many of the reasons mentioned here. I loved that Luke popped into enlightenment like a preacher during the rapture. It was completely unexpected and wonderful.

    I do wonder how they will handle the loss of Carrie Fisher. This movie seems to imply an absolute requirement for Leia in a subsequent film. An opening scene with a funeral might be a tactful way to handle that. Please dear God, don’t let them try to do her role as a CGI!

    1. Doogs says:

      They’ve already said they’re not going to do CG or recast.

      I’m pretty convinced the most tactful way to do it is offscreen, either shortly before or at the very beginning of Episode IX. The funeral idea is one approach. Another could be an opening action scene of some kind, and at some point Rey senses that Leia is gone. I could even imagine her getting a distraught call from Finn (or Poe) about needing to return to wherever, and she cuts in with “it’s Leia”. Then we could cut to 3PO freaking out because he was tending to her and she vanished right in front of him.

      Later Luke’s Force ghost could confirm that Leia became one with the Force, but didn’t have the training to manifest as a ghost herself, but he can commune with her.

  5. Colby Black says:

    Look. Suicide Squad would be a perfectly fine caper action flick if the characters just had different names. It’s not *that* bad. At least not Batman V. Superman level of bad.
    I like your blogpost infinitely more than I liked the movie. I’ll just send you $20 when the next one comes out and you can tell me how it goes.
    Oh, and stick to models. =)

    1. Doogs says:

      Suicide Squad certainly had more soul, but it was all over the place and ended with the typical beam-of-light-in-a-city threat that ultimately brought it down.

  6. Scott Gentry says:

    Excellent thoughts, Matt. I agree with about 99% of what you said. I will always love Ep 5 the best, but this SW film is right there. Ep. 5 transformed a fun one off movie into a galaxy and Ep 8 also grew the SW universe – especially with regards to the force. Long live Kylo Ren Smashing his dorky helmet and may we never hear about midichloriens ever again. Also I lov d getting original Yoda back. The puppet performance and personality, not the CGI ninja scowly grumpy Yoda.

  7. Thomas Haller says:

    Great review and I agree with just about all of it.
    I loved this movie the first time I saw it and I loved it even more the second time and I feel like that will be a trend that will continue.

  8. Doug Wick says:

    Great thoughts Doogs, I enjoyed them – I love how you grouped this by themes. Lots to think on when I hit it again.

  9. jonas says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this read…! Made me rethink some of my own thoughts I had about the movie! I didn’t hate it, but didn’t really like it either, I was…. conflicted. You turned me to the light side again 🙂

    May the Force be with you Doog 🙂

  10. Kenneth says:

    Great review! Watched Tested, Adam Savages’ review the other day, and he loved it for the same reasons, It was different, it shattered all preconceived notions..
    However, we get in to the audience reaction. It perplexes me that, people scream from the rafters “We want something new and exciting! No more reboots, sequels, etc.!!” and then Scream from the rafters when something new and different comes out.. “What is this? Its different!, why couldn’t it be the same!”

    1. You nailed it with this Kenneth…..I have been shaking my head at people the last week or so for this exact reason.

      “It perplexes me that, people scream from the rafters “We want something new and exciting! No more reboots, sequels, etc.!!” and then Scream from the rafters when something new and different comes out.. “What is this? Its different!, why couldn’t it be the same!”

  11. Great review Matt. I have not seen the movie yet but will be on 23 DEC. As others have mentioned here, I like the way that you grouped your comments. I think that really helped to keep your points organized.

    At 46 years old, Star Wars has occupied almost my entire life. I have 25 bankers boxes of toys from my childhood and many, many FIne Molds models to prove it. 🙂 I’m ok with what they are doing with the story line. I have enjoyed the journey with my 12 year-old daughter am patiently waiting to see where the journey takes us.

  12. Sean F says:

    “Finn and Rose’s subplot to Canto Bight is the biggest failure of all”
    And that is my biggest problem with the movie. If the purple haired Admiral wearing a cocktail dress just tells Poe the plan (after telling him to cool his jets or he can go to the brig) that side mission, and it’s PC/SJW bent wouldn’t be necessary. If they’d have let Rose die at the end it would have been much better.

    And while I agree Akbar is not a big character in the films, he is still much more well known and loved character (and I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually liked Haldo’s character). Yet she gets the glorious death.

    I did like the Luke parts a lot though (well, the flip the light saber over the shoulder was just dumb, we wait 2-years for one of the most anticipated moments in SW file history and that’s what we get..c’mon) and his becoming one with the force. The Rey/Kylo were also well done.

    My concern is that it seems they have no overall plan for the trilogy and they’re just making it up as they go along.

  13. Scott Atchison says:

    Your review reminds me of all the Oscar winner movie reviews. Deep meanings and symbolism and metaphors and stuff, trying to explain a boring movie that nobody sees but everybody talks about as if they did. I know that’s not the case with TLJ as EVERYONE is going to see it. But to me, parts of it were boring. Like I fell asleep twice boring.

    Star Wars has evolved from basically a Western in outer space to Oscar bait art by NYU Film School students. Contrast the scene between Luke and Yoda in ROTJ and Luke and Rey in TLJ. The former worked and kept the audience engaged because it was funny. Their interaction kept the audience engaged. The latter was like a Made for TV teen drama, full of angst and recrimination. The most engaging characters in the whole movie were the Puffin like things.

    Rey’s interaction with what’s his name (Han and Leia’s kid) was similar. Do you remember one memorable quote from that scene that comes close to “Luke, I am your father.”? And don’t get me started on Laura Dern…. The opening action scenes were ok and the last action scene saved the movie IMHO. The middle parts were a snoozefest.

    Your review however, is very enjoyable. I am reading it in retrospect and agreeing with you based on what I saw. But should an action movie have to be explained after the fact by a critic? The first three certainly did not.

    Thanks for your review. It gave me insight to things I wouldn’t have thought about after seeing the movie alone. Spoilers or not, I recommend everyone who has not seen TLJ to read Doog’s review before you see it. Maybe you won’t be so bored.

  14. joss19522014 says:

    Just saw this today…. and I have one question…. why do they always kill the fat x-wing pilot right off the bat….. 🙂

    Great write up!

  15. Ben Matthews says:

    Interesting review.
    I liked the movie very much – but – I still have regrets…*

    My feelings about the movie, after I’ve seen it twice, matches mainly what you describe in “Time is problematic in TLJ”
    Another point, (some people will not like what I’m writing here) is this being politically correct AND/OR marketing maximization… Bring in asian heroes, black heroes, women heroes. Believe me, I have nothing against it, but, it is out of the blue compared to the previous Episodes… and I just cannot get rid of the feeling that they try so hard maximizing audience reach (and we all know why…$$$) – because more people will identify themselves to these heroes.
    Or is it simply reflecting society – nowadays and 40 years ago?

    *to the regrets – the story.
    This eternal copy / paste from different scenes of Episode IV to VI. feels like warming up an old meal…
    There is not really a lot of new stuff in these movies…while they could have gone for the Thrawn-Trilogy for example. People who have read these books will understand what I mean. (And for those who didn’t read them 😉 ) They are fantastic, full of new ideas, not your stereotype villains and all in all just – like a fresh meal.

    This said, looking forward to the next movies anyways 🙂 because they improved one by one since Phantom Menace – and that is very good.

  16. ted upcott says:

    If Carrie Fisher had not died. Ep. 9 would have been about Ben Solo as leader of the First Order fighting his mother as the leader of the Rebels. The old script of Ep. 9 is now thrown out and a whole new one needs to be written. What a story if only Carrie hadn’t died.

    1. Doogs says:

      Well, Colin Trevorrow was fired apparently for having trouble with the Leia story after Carrie died.

  17. Whitey says:

    All good points, Doog. I suppose I should come right out and admit that I love “Rogue One” and hate TFA (they killed Han Solo, so fuck JJ Abrams straight to Hell). I liked TLJ. Love it or hate it, and I hate it, TFA is Star Wars now. No changing it. TLJ is better and, thank Jesus, is Star Wars too.

    Sure, the bombers are bullshit, but so is most of Star Wars. The beauty of the franchise is that it makes the bullshit believable. Remember how the Stormtroopers on Tatooine wore dirty-ass armor that looked like they’d actually worn it while patrolling the desert for months? That’s what Star Wars always had over Star Trek: the high-tech shit gets dirty and breaks down, some people are still dirt-poor, etc. People actually live in it.

    The only part of TLJ that bugged me was how it treats the arms dealers as some world-crushing revelation. I watched and thought “No shit. I don’t recall seeing any shipyards or X-wing assembly lines on Yavin, Hoth, or wherever the hell they flew off of in the last movie. They had to buy ‘em off of somebody. Be grateful that evil, evil arms dealer was willing to sell the rebels all those cool ships, speeders, guns, ammo, and the spare parts to keep everything running at a price they could afford. Otherwise you could try your luck throwing rocks at the Empire/First Order.” Is the arms dealer a scumbag? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he’s a legit defense contractor who has to sell to the Empire if he wants to stay in business (remember Hugo Junkers?) and doesn’t touch slavery, drugs, or any other nasty realities of life in a galaxy far, far away. Or maybe he’s a “Lord of War”-esque douchebag (Nicholas Cage IN SPACE!!! The horror! ) who’s equally happy to get kids hooked on spice before he sells them off to Hutt pimps, and the rebels have to hold their nose and deal with it. Either way, no arms dealer equals no rebellion equals bad guys win. Take the guns, shoot some bad guys, and get over it. I get that this is a big deal for Finn, since he had a decidedly sheltered childhood. But Rose was a “mean streets” kid. She should know better.

    Apart from that, I was looking for a sendoff of the late Carrie Fisher, which didn’t happen. I can live with that. Plus we still haven’t seen Lando on whatever luxury moon he owns now, still scoring hotties in his seventies because he’s Lando fucking Calrissian. I still want to see that (is Billy Dee Williams still alive?). And, what the hell, I’ll still watch TFA, even though I hate it, because it’s part of Star Wars, so I really can’t bitch about it that much.

  18. Randy says:

    After seeing “Jedi”, I have to say that the enthusiasm felt as we watched the first trailer at the Star Wars Celebration this past April was a bit overstated. The movie is good; better than the prequels, but not better than “Empire” from the Trilogy and not better than “Rogue One”. The third film in this series is going to present a problem to the writers. Obviously no Leia will be an issue. However, for the next film to have any hope at credibility they have to advance the story by 5-10 years. Please don’t try to pick-up after “Jedi” ends. A gap will easily explain Leia’s passing. But it would provide a back story to Rey further enhancing her skills; for Ren to take total control of the First Order; and for the Resistance to gather its strength for the final battle. Anything less will turn this story into a farce.

  19. Sundog says:

    My problem was that for most of the movie, I couldn’t help thinking, “I’ve already seen this is there anything new here?” Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained and I did enjoy the death of Snoke.

    A couple of points: When Laura Dern’s character stays behind to fly the ship, I was thinking, “Really, they can fly through hyperspace, but don’t have autopilot or droid who can fly it?” I know most movies have plot holes, but you could have flown a Death Star through that one.

    With regard to ship designs, do a search on “Audi Tie Fighter.” An Audi designer rendered his idea of a Tie fighter, and while familiar, I think it looks cool. I also have a design in my head for what I call a heavy “A-Wing”, the A+ wing? 😉 It looks really cool in my head. Take the original A-Wing, make it about 2.5 times larger, and in platform, make it look more like a chiseled spade in shape; make the straight edged nose sections angled about forty five degrees for a more arrowhead shape. Give it for engines, arranged along the trailing edge, similar to what you see on the M.F., but they distinctly separate and have thrust vectoring for maneuverability. I also don’t have a canopy on it, the pilot is completely submerged in the body and uses the force to fly it; it’s a Jedi only fighter.

    I should also add, after TESB, Rogue One was my next favorite SW movie. Hopefully the Solo movie will be just as good.

    1. Zach says:

      The Audi Tie Fighter thing reminds me of the ships from Shadows of the Empire.

  20. John O'Shaughnessy says:

    Hey. I’m the idiot who posted your panel lines article on the model critique facebook page trying to make a point about the inherent differences between the styles or techniques used by model builders of various subjects. Anyway – this was the most succinct critical review of the movie yet and you fleshed out a discussion my wife and I had in the days following having seen the film. For the same reasons you mentioned, I thought it was one of the best of the series, if not the best of them all. My wife is a literary scholar of sorts with a Ph.D. in medieval English Lit and she immediately picked up on the fact that the movie used the character’s expectations to mirror the fans expectations and then used the story to work counter to that, thereby making a statement about the place the film(s) has in not only the world of Star Wars but in cinema and society in terms of how and what people expect from “heroes” and why we tell stories in the first place. I’ve tried in vain to explain this to people who reacted negatively to the film and how it would be a complete waste of time to simply keep telling the same story over and over. It also makes the Force Awakens an effective setup to TLJ.
    Of all the professional reviews I’ve read, this was simply the best and most thoroughly thoughtful of them all. You should do more movie reviews. BTW, I’ve worked Film for 30 years – in Los Angeles for 13 years, I’m a member of the International Cinematographers Guild, and I have an MFA in cinematography from the American Film Institute.

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